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Grade 11 student uses robotics to improve livelihood of the blind

Jakarta Post - June 3, 2024

Sheena Suparman, Jakarta – Jakarta Scholars Symposium (JSS) presented its third event, titled "Innovating for Impact" on Wednesday (29/05). Held at Soehanna Hall, the event invited eight students from different schools to present their outstanding projects from topics ranging from increasing education to reducing textile waste.

The JSS is an independent, non-profit coalition dedicated as a forum for young people to lead their generation in creating awareness of issues that are most relevant and of concern to the world today. Prior to Wednesday, JSS has conducted symposiums, carrying the theme "Saving our Earth" and Computing for the Future."

"The most important message of value is that the symposium was designed for students to showcase their passion, their projects and the impact that they're making and all to raise awareness about what can be done in Indonesia for Indonesia," said Carolyn Tiemann, the woman behind the event.

One project in particular was designed specifically for the often overlooked group of the community; the disabled. Speaking to attendees at the event, Jaythaneal Skylar Sutrisno unveil his latest invention, in the form of a pair of glasses designed to assist the visually impaired.

Standing alone on a wide stage clad in batik, he looked every bit like the epitome of young innovators of the future, ever confident of his ability elevating Indonesia's position in the eyes of the world. As a grade 11 student at Jakarta Intercultural School, he has already chartered a clear path of his future to contribute to his community through robotics.

"I developed a pair of glasses designed to detect nearby objects using a combination of advanced technologies. Central to this innovation is a proximity sensor, which continuously scans the environment for obstacles," he presented. "The proximity sensor integrates infrared sensors. An infrared (IR) sensor detects objects by emitting infrared radiation and measuring the reflection that bounces back from an object. This allows them to detect whether there are nearby objects with a high level of accuracy and reliability, acting similar to the systems used in modern vehicles to avoid collisions"

He explained that the core of the device is a compact, energy-efficient motherboard that processes sensor data in real time. Powering the entire setup is a lightweight battery, ensuring the glasses remain practical for everyday use.

"I researched [about similar technologies]. There were some ideas about it, but a lot of it's really impractical, it's really big, and it was really ugly, and sometimes it just doesn't work. So I thought, you know what, maybe I can try, work on this idea, but make it even better. So I thought about trying to make it more accessible, because these disabled people, they already have a lot going on. I don't want to further hassle them with carrying big things, so I tried making it smaller," Jaythaneal explained further.

Drawing inspiration from the way bats utilized echolocation to detect things around them, this blend of cutting-edge components allows the glasses to alert the wearer of nearby objects using infrared sensors. It was created with the aim to enhance safety and awareness for the visually impaired.

As for how he came up with the prototype, he was able to innovate with the help of a couple YouTube videos and his knowledge in robotics. While the passion project is merely a start and successful in detecting short ranges, he plans to improve it to be able to be given you to people with vision disabilities in the future. Jaythaneal revealed that he will be enlisting the help of a professor from UC Berkeley, Calif. this summer.

His passion for robotics and giving back to his community runs deeper than just creating a pair of glasses. This year, he started the robotics club at Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), a first of its kind for the school. He excitedly said that they are learning about EV3 and VEX, two programs designed for robotics, among other things. On its first year, Jaythaneal and his team has managed to join the Robofest competition and emerged victorious with three awards.

"I think you need to expand the knowledge of robotics first, which is what I'm doing in my school. My school doesn't provide a lot of robotics opportunities, and I feel like starting a club is something that not just know about it, but also have experience with it. I think that's very important for them to develop it in the future," he said regarding the club.

Moreover, he founded Rumah Inovasi, an initiative that aims to introduce technical engineering concepts to children living in orphanages in and around Jakarta. He started it in the hopes that it can inspire and help children unleash their creativity through its activities.

"See, the thing is, I feel like it's important to drill them with concepts, but also have them make it so that they know what they're using it for. Because I know a lot of students ask, 'what do I need math for? What do I need this for?' This is what I'm trying to answer for them," he said.

"So I gave them the project to make model planes, and they work in groups, I helped them out, and everything. So we provide them with servos, which is a precise motorized device, wires, and we used plywood too. And that's just one example."

While school is out for the summer, Jaythaneal uses the time to hone his skills. In addition to spending time at UC Berkeley to improve his invention, he is also working on a research paper focusing on the implementation of drones and how it can be beneficial for agriculture and deliveries. He hopes the paper can be another vessel for him to raise awareness on the bright side of the advancement of technology.

"I feel like it's really important to show people, you know, and express our ideas, because a lot of our ideas, I feel like are really complex, but I think it's really important that we share them, no matter if we think it's a good idea, if it's a bad idea. I think sharing is really important, because if more people know about such topics, such ideas, we can further develop it and move on as a country. In my speech I mentioned, I feel like innovation is the key for Indonesia's economy to grow," he concluded.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2024/06/03/grade-11-student-uses-robotics-to-improve-livelihood-of-the-blind.htm